By Akanimo Sampson
The problem of irregular migration from the East and Horn of Africa to southern Africa, is presenting countries along the route with a new challenge: how to manage the flows while ensuring that the human rights of migrants are respected and protected.
The ‘Southern Route’ – as this migration route is known, is used by scores of irregular migrants journeying southward in the hope of reaching South Africa.
To better manage these irregular migration flows, the Governments of Ethiopia, Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania have held several bilateral and trilateral technical meetings since 2014.
The latest took place this week between the three countries in partnership with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the European Union (EU). It ran from Tuesday to Thursday, (April 2-4, 2019).
The high-level inter-governmental consultation was expected to deliver a final comprehensive roadmap to address the situation of stranded migrants on the Southern route.
The meeting took place with the support of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa. The programme, backed by the Africa Trust Fund, covers and has been set up in close cooperation with a total of 26 African countries.
Technical experts from the three countries, with the support of IOM, were expected to develop a draft outcome document to be adopted by the states at senior political level on the third day.
The proposed roadmap was expected to address issues pertaining to the trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants in the region, as well as the sharing of good practices and developing holistic approaches with regard to addressing irregular migration on the Southern Route.
The roadmap will also consider alternatives to detention practices and explore better coordination mechanisms to protect vulnerable migrants while improving existing voluntary return and reintegration processes and policies.
“IOM appreciated the efforts of both the United Republic of Tanzania and Ethiopia to jointly assist migrants who are stranded in the country. Hopefully the donor community will continue to step forward to support efforts for the safe return and reintegration of vulnerable migrants,” emphasized Dr. Qasim Sufi, IOM Chief of Mission in Tanzania.
A key priority of the Joint Initiative is to support partner countries in the region to develop capacities for safe, humane and dignified voluntary return as well as sustainable reintegration processes.